My name is Gia and I am the owner and live show host behind Boutique Rye! I am a wife and mom to a crazy two year old named Riley. I own an online women’s clothing boutique that started last July (2017)!
We have an online website as well as a very successful Facebook group. I also use Instagram and Youtube but I am just now starting to get serious about those two.
I wanted to write this piece with Starter Story to show other entrepreneurs that it IS possible to grow a large following on Facebook without paying for Facebook ads! We have only grown our Facebook group organically and I think that is a big reason why we have such a tight-knit, loyal community!
I will share all of my “secrets” how I was able to grow our Facebook group to 5,500 members in a little over a year!
A new way to sell your product: Live Sales
When I first decided to open an online boutique I knew that we had to be different. Everywhere you look there is an online women’s boutique and I didn’t want to blend in. That is when the idea of Live Sales came to me.
No other online boutiques that I was aware of were doing something like this. Facebook Live seemed like the perfect platform and all I needed was a group!
Our live sales have quickly grown to 8,000-10,000 views each time we go live.
We treat our live sales as an exclusive sale just for our facebook group members. Our group members get first dibs on all of our new inventory before it ever hits our website. This was a huge selling point to get people to join our group and watch our live sales.
We consistently sell out of items so they now know if they want to get the newer clothes they need to be in our group and on our lives! Our live sales have quickly grown to 8,000-10,000 views each time we go live.
Our live sales are fun and unique and we are able to sell clothes to hundreds of women in real time!
Announcing your group
Our Facebook group was created the day before we launched our boutique. I actually went live on my PERSONAL Facebook page to share our big news with everyone.
This was an easy and quick way to get a lot of people added to our group! I have a lot of Facebook friends from all over the country and wanted to reach them all at one time!
After going live I made a post about our first live sale which was going to be the very next day. In this post, I included a giveaway for $100 gift card to our boutique just for joining the group! I will talk about this more later but I think giveaways are CRUCIAL to the success of your group and growing organically!
I cannot say this enough, stay consistent! The first week we opened we had quite a few girls joining the group daily so we wanted to make sure we were posting every single day.
At first, I thought this was overkill; “what if people get annoyed and leave our group”?! You have to stop letting yourself think those negative thoughts. Don’t get me wrong it is still hard for me to let go of those thoughts a year down the road but they can and will destroy you if you let them.
By posting every day that first couple of weeks I think we really stayed in the forefront of people's’ minds and had a big jumpstart in member growth.
Growing the group
I was able to grow the group by posting EVERYWHERE! You will probably feel like the most annoying person ever but who cares AND it works!
The day before each live sale I would post in a few different groups on Facebook letting people know who we were and what a live sale was! I posted on my personal page, a local moms business group, marketplace, and a couple local groups I was a part of.
The power of giveaways
I always included in my post that there is a giveaway with each live sale just for watching and sharing, no purchase necessary. Slowly but surely people would start adding themselves to the group because they were curious and didn’t want to miss out!
The power of giveaways is amazing; not only does it help us grow organically but it also gives our existing customers a reason to join and continue watching our live sales.
Ask your members to share
Every single time we do a live video we ask our customers to share and when they share they are entered in to win a free shirt, gift card, accessory, etc. By sharing the video they are adding our live sale and our group to their timeline which in turn shows our business to everyone on their friend's list!
After each live sale when people share we usually get about 30-40 new members. This number continues to go up throughout the week as more and more people see us on their friends’ timeline.
I believe sharing and growing organically is much more beneficial than paying for ads that you aren’t even sure if they will work. When one of your friends shares something on Facebook you know they are sharing it for a reason.
People are much more apt to trust their friends sharing a business than me promoting my own business! Not as genuine!
How to get people to find your group
Like I said before, I think the main way people find us is through our customers sharing our videos every single week. Each time we have a live sale in our group we always give something away as an incentive to share our video.
This brings in so many new members that we wouldn’t be able to reach without the help of our community of women. They also are able to find us through the many groups I post to every Wednesday which is the day before our live sales. I will say it again be consistent and you will see results! If you are not organized, get a planner and write down a to-do list that is specific to each day.
Bloggers and influencers
I recently started to reach out to different bloggers or influencers that I think could help get our name out. I follow a few local influencers and I offer them a couple pieces of clothing and in turn, they will post on their social media sites about our group.
I have a pretty generic email that I send them but I always add a little bit about them to make it genuine and personalized. Just recently I had a makeup blogger go live wearing one of our sweaters and within a couple of hours, 50 new girls were a part of our group!
Moderating the group
Moderating the group can be overwhelming at times but I would say the biggest piece of advice is don’t sweat the small stuff.
I used to get so worked up if a customer posted something that didn’t really fit “our style” or if they posted and it bumped my post to the bottom. I realized that I would rather my customers feel comfortable posting and treating this like a community than only having me post things. It also shows other members in the group that girls are loving our clothes and they will too when they decide to try!
I do have the setting turned on where people have to request to be in the group. This way you avoid a lot of random creepers jumping on your group and commenting on inappropriate things.
How to promote engagement in the group
This is something I am very passionate about! I try and engage and respond to every single post and comment that is made by a customer.
I check the group multiple times a day to make sure I don’t miss anything. My customers have told me a big reason why they stick around is my customer service and ability to connect with every single person in the group.
I really think it makes your customers feel important and valued. Because in the end you would be nowhere without your customers and it is important to remember that each and every day.
I know I mentioned this above but also staying consistent is a big part of engaging in your group and keeping your customers engaged. Every Sunday night I plan out my posts for the week.
Facebook even has a new tool where you can schedule them all out and pick the time you want your post to go live. This has been a lifesaver for me because it helps me be more organized and eliminates any chances of me forgetting to post!
Our plans for the future
We plan to continue having people share each week because we have seen great success with that.
I want to continue collecting a list of influencers to send products to and have them share our boutique with their followers. I always say when you find something that works stick to it.
Obviously we are always thinking of new ways to grow but we will continue to stick with what we have been doing!
What I’ve learned
I have learned so much about Facebook in general since starting a group for our boutique. It is a great platform for businesses and gives you the platform to grow.
We have found a way to grow just by sharing which is something I didn’t think would ever have that big of an outcome.
I have learned that groups are not the top pick for business owners as there are a lot more options for business pages (ie. links to your website, direct shopping links, ability to run ads, etc.)
I have also learned that being an active member in your group and keeping your engagement up will bring growth naturally and bring genuine followers.
My advice for others getting started with and FB group
Just DO IT!
I was so caught up on making our group perfect right away and realized it was only setting us back. We started the group, picked a nice cover photo, and did a welcome post! That was it! If you wait until your group is perfectly set up the way you want it you will never start!
Make sure your notifications are always turned on for your group. This will ensure that you don’t miss a comment or post from any customer. I make it a point to answer everyone within 24 hours! This is a great rule of thumb to have because a lot of times things can get lost in the group and you want to make sure you respond and show your customers you are there and active.
Last but not least, schedule out posts! This is so amazing for people who are extremely busy or always unorganized (me)! Sit down once a week and plan out your posts. Then schedule them through Facebook. You will be upholding the consistency rule too without even trying.
Thank you all so much for reading our story and what it takes to run a successful Facebook group. Don’t ever let your fears get in the way of you doing what you have always dreamed of doing.
I never thought in a million years we would have a boutique that had over 5,000 members in one year. Stay consistent and have fun! Treat your customers like you want to be treated! As a business owner I live and die by customer service and I think our Facebook group really encompasses that to the fullest!
Boutique Rye is a completely online women’s clothing and accessories boutique. You can find us online at www.boutiquerye.com or stop by every Thursday night at 7:30CST to see a live sale www.facebook.com/groups/boutiquerye Check out a more personal view into our daily life on Instagram. Our YouTube channel is Boutique Rye YouTube . My email is [email protected] if you ever need to reach me!
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